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Geotechnical message feeds through to workload

THE UK geotechnical industry is healthy and the outlook is positive, according to a recent survey carried out by Ground Engineering.

The survey was undertaken as part of the compilation of the magazine's annual UK Geotechnical Services File, published this month.

Sent to over 700 companies identified to be active in the industry, respondents, many of them senior figures in the industry, were asked to predict staff levels and workload for the coming year, as well as industry trends and any concerns they had.

Nearly half of those sent a questionnaire replied, with 59% expecting staff levels to increase, with a 75% increase in workload. Current

estimates are that there are some 5,800 geotechnical professionals employed in the UK industry worth around £750M.

There is a continued growth in environmental work, concentrated in the remediation of brownfield sites for house building, compensating for a slight dip in mainstream civils work. This has led to greater demand for design and build geotechnical and geo-environmental solutions and fixed price work and increased reliance on risk management.

And projects remain small and medium sized rather than the large contracts of a few years ago, seen mainly as a result of the fall of investment in infrastructure, particularly in the roads programme.

Main concerns are that there still appears to be a lack of skilled geotechnical staff, late payment and that contracts in the increasingly competitive marketplace continue to be awarded on the basis of price rather than quality, with unrealistic time scales and budget constraints.

But it is not all bad news. Finally, it seems, the message that geotechnics is the key to the success of projects is getting through, with respondents saying that clients and engineers are becoming more aware of importance of ground conditions and their effect on construction.

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